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Tue, Jan 18, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Legislators and environmental experts blast Pinnan approval

WETLANDS The government made concessions to ecologists in passing the environmental impact assessment for the industrial complex, but critics still say the entire assessment process was flawed


Legislators, environmentalists and bird conservationists launched a new battery of criticism against the Pinnan Industrial Complex (濱南工業區) project yesterday, one month after the passage of the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Critics of the Pinnan project had previously said that it would lead to a water shortage in southern Taiwan as well as perhaps causing the extinction of the rare black-faced spoonbill, more than two-thirds of the world's surviving population which winter at the Chiku wetlands in Tainan County, prospective site of the industrial complex.

Yesterday they reiterated these criticisms at a news conference held by legislators, saying that the EIA was inadequate in addressing these problems.

While the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in passing the EIA vetoed the construction of a new industrial harbor which would cover part of the Chiku lagoon, in a bid to placate environmentalists, legislators criticized the EIA as irresponsible and at a news conference showed a letter of support signed by 50 of their colleagues.

"The EIA was passed with no promises from the Water Resource Bureau, which will have to supply 190,000 tons of water a day to the industrial complex," said DPP legislator Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智), referring to to the possibility that a battle over water resources may result if the project goes ahead.

"It is unfair and inefficient to transfer water resources for people living in Kaohsiung or Pingtung counties up to Tainan County, just to meet the water supply demands of petrochemical and steel-making companies in the Pinnan Industrial Complex," said DPP legislator Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) from Pingtung County.

Legislators said they would work on revising the existing EIA Law soon to prevent further contradictions.

In addition, they said that they would try to block the project when developers apply to rezone the land -- from national land, under the name of Taiwan Salt Company at Chiku, to land zoned for industrial use.

Experts from the University of California at Berkeley attending yesterday's press conference also called the EIA for the Pinnan project inappropriate.

"A rare bird such as the black-faced spoonbill has not been respected in this case. The situation cannot possibly happen in the United States," Timothy Duane said.

G. Matthias Kondolf, who is working with local scientists on the research of water resources in southern Taiwan, called for a scheme for using water which meets the concept of sustainable development.

Randolph Hester said that several monitoring groups had been initiated around the world, including the Earth Island Institute, a US-based environmental group.

"More than 100 scientists are keeping their eyes on the Pinnan project. No one who is a good scientist would have expected that the [EIA] would be passed," Hester said.

At the news conference yesterday, a black-faced spoonbill mascot -- played by a student from National Taiwan University -- stepped on a booklet of implementation rules for the Environmental Impact Assessment Law, to express opposition to the possible damage to the rare bird's wintering site.

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